Dishes That Deserve A Comeback
Nothing is forever. We’re all going to die. A large part of the parcel of being alive is knowing that one day, everyone and everything that you know and love will cease to exist. Including ourselves. Food is no different. Some trends like pizza can seemingly last forever while others like feta pasta are a bit more blink and you’ll miss it.
If I had to tell you what the current trends in the food world are, I’d say that we’re in the middle of a big moment for grilled hispi cabbage and bottarga as well as seeing a pretty sizeable radicchio revival. As I write this in 2022, I can confirm that I’d love to eat all of those things and regularly see them crop up on the menus at trendy restaurants and pop off on social media. But I’m also very aware that that’s what they are: trends. Like the sands of time, they will soon be replaced by the next crop of hot and happening dishes and be put into the archives like the dalgona coffees that came before them.
That’s why, today, I’d like to take a dive into the archives and blow the dust off of some old classics that I think we should be eating more of. These are the retro dishes that I think we should be bringing back to the forefront of the public conscious and eating a lot more often.
Chicken À La King
An old-school recipe that consists of diced chicken and vegetables cooked in a rich and creamy sauce (usually spiked with a glug of sherry), the chicken à la king is an undoubtedly tasty dish that’s ripe for a comeback. For one, it’s incredibly versatile. You can serve the unctuous chicken sauce with rice, noodles, pastry, and even lay it on top of crispy bread like some ribollita-meets-bruschetta creation. Think of it like a chicken pie without the crust. It’s only a matter of time before some fitness influencer re-brands the chicken à la king as a “keto pie”.
Even a bad Arctic roll is a delight. Ice cream cake is one of the most underrated types of cake in existence and I really don’t understand why the delicious combo of sponge cake, vanilla ice cream, and raspberry seems to have fallen out of favour with the general public. Invented back in 1968, the Arctic has had a real tumultuous history. During the 1980s, people couldn’t simply couldn't get enough of the stuff; more than 40 kilometres of Birds Eye Arctic roll were sold each month. Sales dropped off sharply in the 90s, however, and Birds Eye eventually stopped selling it. That was until 2008 when, in the midst of everyone suffering from an economic recession, Birds Eye started producing the Arctic roll again and sales of the nostalgic dessert shot back up. We’ve just come out of a global pandemic, and a good few years of proper shit, making it the perfect time for an Artic roll revival.
Yes, it’s got a bit of a Royalist name but I don’t see that getting in the way of coronation chicken’s inevitable (and stratospheric) rise to the top of dinner party menus. If there was ever a dish to cook and serve ironically to your friends, this is it. Not only because coronation chicken is a pretty easy to dish to make but also because it tastes much better than it has any right to. Originally prepared for banquet of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that 2022 – the year of Liz’s Platinum Jubilee – is a good time for it to come roaring back into fashion. Besides, adding dried fruit to anything savoury? Chic!
I can’t remember the last time I saw a Waldorf Salad on the menu at a genuinely cool restaurant. It’s still knocking about in those fuddy-duddy eateries where they insist you wear a pair of trousers and a proper button-up shirt but I’ve yet to see someone reinvent the Waldorf for the current Carhartt market. Which is mad, really, as it's got all the makings of a wonderful salad. The combination of fruit, nuts, and mayonnaise might sound odd but the creaminess of the mayo works alongside the sweetness of the fruit and the textural crunch of the nuts to make for a salad that’s intriguing and delicious. All it’ll take for someone to jazz this up for your modern-day gourmand is some homemade mayo and seasonal fruit, I’m sure of it.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Alfredo was a dish created by Americans that has no actual roots in Italian cuisine. Mainly because that’s exactly what the dish has become – a creamy bastardization of Italian food where you can find everything from fried chicken to bacon bits thrown in there for the hell of it. The original Fettuccine Alfredo, however, was actually invented at the Alfredo alla Scrofa in Rome. It didn’t have any cream or ham or peas but it did contain copious amounts of butter and parmesan. While most Italians have disowned the Alfredo (it was, after all, created in order to cater to the tastes of American tourists back in the early 1900s), I can see some chef out there having the cojones to put an “authentic” Alfredo on their menu and upset just about Italian on the planet in the process. And – you know what? – it’ll probably taste great.
I’m not exactly sure when the veal Milanese started to became unfashionable, but I am rather sure that it’s deserving of a return to the limelight. Veal, although a controversial meat, is uncontroversially delicious. Especially when it’s been breaded and fried in butter. It’s also not as ethically dubious as you might think. Because, yes, veal is a baby calf but it’s not like you’re eating a puppy or doing your best impression of Saturn Devouring His Son. Baby male calves are a regular by-product of the dairy industry and, as a result, a lot of farmers genuinely don’t know what to do with them. Like food waste, calf waste can be a big issue for farmers so the more veal we eat, the fewer male dairy calves are wasted. At least, that’s how I’m convincing myself that we should all be eating more gorgeous, golden brown schnitzels of veal Milanese.
Pâté En Croute
Saying that this dish has gone completely out of fashion is slightly disingenuous seeing as the French have been devouring pâté en croute for literal centuries, barely taking a second's pause to come up for air between bites. Us Brits, though, have appeared to have fallen out of love with the stuff in the last decade or so. Which is odd considering that the pork pie is, and always has been, a British classic. Where the pork pie conceals, however, the pâté en croute reveals. Anything that contains miscellaneous chunks of congealed meat and jelly is fine by the dining public, they just don't want to have to look at it and know that what their eating is a meaty mishmash of various game. The beauty of the pâté en croute is just that. It is an honest pie that lays itself bare, challenging eaters to try and recognise what is meat and what is fat but enjoying every slice of it nonetheless. As rustic French cuisine fell out of favour in the UK, the pâté en croute saw its star fall, too. My plea to everyone out there is to order it the next time you see it on the menu – making a good pâté en croute is an art form that I hope won't be lost any time soon.
Toad In The Hole
Why has no one gentrified the toad in the hole yet? Serve me one of these made with high-qual sausage embedded into a proper homemade Yorkshire pudding and I won’t make any complaints. Some dishes don’t need any fancy herbs or garnishes or lobs of gochujang thrown into them; they just need to be cooked by someone who knows what they’re doing. The toad in the hole’s beauty is in its simplicity. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be seeing it on every pub menu in the country.
No, I’m just fucking with you.